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United States

US election commission loses another executive director as critical election year begins

The federal agency that develops standards for voting equipment and provides a wide range of assistance to state and local election officials is searching for its fourth leader since 2019.

The departure of Election Assistance Commission executive director Steven Frid, confirmed by the agency on Tuesday, comes just as voting begins in the U.S. presidential election.

Frid held the position for less than a year and was the agency’s third executive director in three years. The EAC’s chief information officer will serve as acting executive director while a search for a permanent replacement is underway, the EAC commissioners said in a statement.

“The EAC Commissioners and staff remain committed to carrying out the mission and vision of the agency and continuing to serve election officials and voters, especially as we move into a critical election year in 2024,” the agency said.

The executive director, along with the general counsel, are the agency’s top two staff positions and have experienced heavy turnover since 2019. The officials who held those roles at the time were not rehired when their contracts expired, and the agency hired replacements in 2020. By February, both replacements had left for other agencies.

The positions were staffed on a temporary basis until Frid was appointed to replace the interim executive director a year ago. He had previously worked as security director of the U.S. Department of Education’s federal student aid office, according to the EAC. He also had worked for the U.S. Secret Service, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Office of Personnel Management.

The EAC now heads into a major election year without an executive director or general counsel. Frid could not immediately be reached for comment.

The bipartisan commission was established by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to modernize voting technology following the “hanging chad” debacle in Florida during the 2000 presidential election.

The agency’s mission includes assisting election officials nationwide and helping them meet requirements of the 2002 law. It also adopts voluntary voting system guidelines, helps certify voting systems and maintains national mail voter registration forms.

Since the 2016 election, the agency also oversees federal money set aside by Congress to bolster election security.

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The Associated Press receives support from several private foundations to enhance its explanatory coverage of elections and democracy. See more about AP’s democracy initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Christine Fernando, The Associated Press


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